The 15 Best Music Documentaries of All Time

The 15 Best Music Documentaries of All Time
The 15 Best Music Documentaries of All Time

Music enthusiasts will delight in these top 15 documentaries, offering a cornucopia of varying styles and sounds:

GIMME SHELTER: Although there are many documentaries about the Rolling Stones, none are as comprehensive as this gem from the Maysles brothers. This film chronicles the last weeks of the infamous 1969 tour of the United States, climaxing with the violent concert at Altamont Speedway. 

BOB DYLAN: DON’T LOOK BACK: Well-respected filmmaker DA Pennebaker follows Bob Dylan on his 1965 tour of Great Britain. 

IN BED WITH MADONNA: Alek Keshishian chronicles pop star Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour, giving special emphasis to her entourage of dancers. 

BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB: This 1999 documentary garnered an Oscar nomination for its portrayal of the Cuban ensemble band and the emergence of this cultural phenomenon in America. 

THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON: Director Jeff Feuerzeig offers a sympathetic look at folk musician Daniel Johnston as he struggles to balance his music with his debilitating bipolar disorder. 

DOA: A RITE OF PASSAGE: This quintessential punk documentary is a film diary of the 1978 US tour of the Sex Pistols, giving a glimpse into the dynamic between Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. 

METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER: The timing of this film was such that it was able to accurately document the falling apart of heavy metal giant Metallica as they struggle with the downfalls of success. 

AMY: This Oscar-winning documentary follows the tumultuous life of Amy Winehouse from the early hope-filled days all the way to the singer’s tragic end. 

STARSHAPED: British pop band Blur is the focus of this documentary right before their rise to stardom. 

I AM TRYING TO BREAK YOUR HEART: A FILM ABOUT WILCO: Photographer Sam Jones was able to capture Wilco at the bottom as they were released from their label and were forced to drop two of their band members. The film also chronicles the bounce back with the release of the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album. 

20 FEET FROM STARDOM: As unsung musical heroes, concert backup singers finally get their voice in this documentary from Morgan Neville. 

DAVE CHAPPELLE’S BLOCK PARTY: This film exposes a 2004 bash thrown by Dave Chapelle with invited performers including Lauryn Hill and Kayne West. A political undertone is a commentary on the culture of the times. 

RUDE BOY: Director Jack Hazan demonstrates the technique of using both documentary filmmaking skills and staged reality to create an accurate and entertaining portrayal of The Clash. 

THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION PART I: This film documents punk music and the American response to the movement with performances by iconic bands such as X and Black Flag and Germs. 

THE ROAD TO GOD KNOWS WHERE: The less glamorous parts of band road life are chronicled in this film following the Bad Seeds and their 1989 US tour.

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